“The same process works going forward in time; in essence every one of us who has children and whose line does not go extinct is suspended at the center of an immense genetic hourglass. Just as we are descended from most of the people alive on the planet a few thousand years ago, several thousand years hence each of us will be an ancestor of the entire human race—or of no one at all.”
The mosaic of our shared ancestry can be drawn forwards and backwards. Not only can we look to the past and cherish our shared ancestors, but we, too, will become the shared ancestor of everyone a thousand years beyond us.
You know … if we have kids.
(via The Atlantic)
See on Scoop.it - Knowmads, Infocology of the future
Using analog computation circuits, MIT engineers design cells that can compute logarithms, divide and take square roots.
MIT engineers have transformed bacterial cells into living calculators that can compute logarithms, divide, and take square roots, using three or fewer genetic parts.
Inspired by how analog electronic circuits function, the researchers created synthetic computation circuits by combining existing genetic “parts,” or engineered genes, in novel ways.
The circuits perform those calculations in an analog fashion by exploiting natural biochemical functions that are already present in the cell rather than by reinventing them with digital logic, thus making them more efficient than the digital circuits pursued by most synthetic biologists, according to Rahul Sarpeshkar and Timothy Lu, the two senior authors on the paper, describing the circuits in the May 15 online edition of Nature.
See on web.mit.edu
What’s going to happen is massive income transfers to flesh and blood human beings. These income transfers will come to be seen as a right-of-birth.
This will make complete social sense once you realize that most of the beings on earth will be robots and therefore not-of-birth.
Birth is something that happens to a minority of beings who are special, flesh and blood humans.
The concern, as I see it, is over accepting the dual truth that robots will in all likelihood be sentient beings with an inner life just as ourselves, and they will live in grinding inescapable poverty. (via The robot threat: In the long run, we are telepathic androids | The Economist)
See on Scoop.it - Philosophy everywhere everywhen
There are real benefits to rituals, religious or otherwise
Think about the last time you were about to interview for a job, speak in front of an audience, or go on a first date. To quell your nerves, chances are you spent time preparing – reading up on the company, reviewing your slides, practicing your charming patter. People facing situations that induce anxiety typically take comfort in engaging in preparatory activities, inducing a feeling of being back in control and reducing uncertainty.
While a little extra preparation seems perfectly reasonable, people also engage in seemingly less logical behaviors in such situations. Here’s one person’s description from our research:
I pound my feet strongly on the ground several times, I take several deep breaths, and I “shake” my body to remove any negative energies. I do this often before going to work, going into meetings, and at the front door before entering my house after a long day.
Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective. Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work. While anthropologists have documented rituals across cultures, this earlier research has been primarily observational. Recently, a series of investigations by psychologists have revealed intriguing new results demonstrating that rituals can have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
See on scientificamerican.com
Quantum mechanics is an incredibly successful theory but one full of strange paradoxes. A recently developed model called Quantum Bayesianism (or QBism) combines quantum theory with probability theory in an effort to eliminate the paradoxes or put them in a less troubling form.
QBism reimagines the entity at the heart of quantum paradoxes—the wave function. Scientists use wave functions to calculate the probability that a particle will have a certain property, such as being in one place and not another. But paradoxes arise when physicists assume that a wave function is real.
QBism maintains that the wave function is solely a mathematical tool that an observer uses to assign his or her personal belief that a quantum system will have a specific property. In this conception, the wave function does not exist in the world—rather it merely reflects an individual’s subjective mental state.”
See on Scoop.it - Cyborg Lives
Is this legal?
Back in October, Alexis wrote a piece asking what rights do we have with regard to the air above our property. Walk onto someone’s lawn and you’re trespassing; fly over it in a helicopter and you’re in the clear — “the air is a public highway,” the Supreme Court declared in 1946. But what about the in-between space? Does the availability of unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones, aka UAVs) throw a wrench in the old legal understandings?
Well, here’s where the rubber meets the road for this abstract line of questioning. The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog is reporting a complaint it received from a resident in the Miller Park neighborhood. She writes:
This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield. I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day. After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away. My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home. The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows. He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses. He purported to be doing “research”. We are extremely concerned, as he could very easily be a criminal who plans to break into our house or a peeping-tom.
The site adds, “The woman tells us she called police but they decided not to show up when the man left.”
See on theatlantic.com